Monday, April 7, 2014


Is it about ironies or is it simply “democracy Pinoy-style”? We can forcefully argue that freedom has its limits and hence support the cybercrime law or that unfettered free enterprise undermines democracy, as greed does in the West? But if we pause for a moment and figure out why we are where we are  – i.e., underdeveloped and stuck with poverty if no longer the sick man of Asia – is it because we have yet to define where we want to be? Can we internalize the imperative of setting a vision as a people or as PHL or to put in simpler terms, what the object of the exercise or what the context is?

Or even more fundamentally, we have yet to grow up as a nation? Given that nation-building is an enterprise, it isn’t uncommon for many to express that we could learn from the private sector like MNCs the pursuit of excellence or competitiveness? On the other hand, given that our instincts are parochial, while we intellectually understand benchmarking, for example, we don’t truly value it because of (national) pride? Nokia was proud and great; like BlackBerry was as was Detroit, among others? And until they turn themselves around they’d be of the past!

As Larry Page (of Google) would say it, We want to figure out what the future will be like . . . And ask ourselves: how we will get there.”Instinctively he is framing the context, the object of the exercise?

All the above were running in my head over the two days I sat listening to my Eastern European friends where we had the managers from the home office and the different regions of the world review the business for the past year and quarter, and going forward. We had updated our view of the future and unveiled an even more aggressive set of goals. I had a simple task at the end of the proceedings and that was to remind them that like they asked eleven years ago, there are no rules only principles. And to call the attention of those who thought then that we were embarking on the impossible.

“We know where we are, and we just redefined where we want to be, and laid down how we are to get there. It is a challenge not a cakewalk but you have the leadership that sets you apart and why you have done wonders in such a short period. And you deserve the credit for being equal to the task, but you don’t want the entrepreneurial spirit to wane because you don't want to be a dinosaur.”

Governments are more complex yet rightly so, forward-looking public-sector workers pick and choose private-sector practices to make governance more efficient. And in the case of PHL, it demands accelerating economic development in order to drastically reduce poverty? And that means not being hostage to oligopoly – which will never wane until we learn to truly seek an egalitarian society? But we can’t do it if we’re still confusing nationalism and parochialism, and monopoly and oligopoly, for example?

We should instead aspire to be a nation of MNCs (like our neighbors) and not live in the past where MNCs meant the West – or the big boys. MNCs, by necessity or the global challenge they face, invest in the building blocks of an economy – from technology to innovation to people to product and market development – and bring to life what economists call the multiplier effect of investment. And it is through these building blocks where wealth is spread to the broader population. It is not an ideological construct but as tangible as the ‘parable of the talents’ – or why this blog always talks about my Eastern European friends and our faith while being critical of ideology, like Francis is?

Do the following newspaper articles reflect ironies or are they a window to the heart and mind of Juan de la Cruz? “THE Supreme Court has junked the ill-gotten cases against the heirs and in-laws of the late President Ferdinand Marcos due to a lack of evidence, and took the Presidential Commission on Good Government and the Office of the Solicitor General to task for bungling the job.” [SC clears FM heirs of ill-gotten charges, Manila Standard Today, 31st Mar 2014]

“Chinese authorities have seized assets worth at least 90 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) from family members and associates of retired domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who is at the center of China's biggest corruption scandal in more than six decades . . .” [China seizes $14.5 billion assets from former leader, Reuters, 31st Mar 2014] “More than 300 of Zhou's relatives, political allies, proteges and staff have also been taken into custody or questioned in the past four months . . .”

“Now that basic education in the Philippines is moving towards the K + 12 curriculum, a good number of industries needing technical skills, from the BPO sector and tourism to manufacturing and agribusiness are planning to adopt the dualvoc method, emulating the Dualtech example in transforming the last two years of high school (Years 11 and 12) into a dual training program in partnership with selected high schools.” [PH leads US in apprenticeships, Bernardo M. Villegas, Manila Bulletin, 30th Mar 2014]

“Has the DepEd achieved its mission? Will it meet UNESCO’s Education for All Goal by 2015? As our government administration changes over time, so do the policies, plans and programs of the department. It is very unfortunate that these constant changes in the system have proven to be detrimental to teachers, to the school environment, administrators and most of all to the students. [As a matter of fact, Sara Soliven De Guzman, The Philippine Star, 31st Mar 2014]

“At this point in our national development, we can turn a tendency to settle for being copycats into an asset. Our inventors can build on existing technology and sound science by tweaking existing products to come up with Pinoy versions.” [Innovation, Sketches, Ana Marie Pamintuan, The Philippine Star, 31st Mar 2014] “The Japanese and now the Koreans and Indians have done it with motor vehicles, consumer electronics and, yes, military hardware. The Chinese are racing to catch up . . . Surely we have enough innovators who can do the same for the Philippines. With sufficient support for R&D, we should be able to produce our own machinery for many industries and develop a vibrant local pharmaceutical sector like the Indians . . . Encouraging innovation ideally starts early in life.”

“The Philippines is under mounting pressure to retain its number one rank in the global call center industry. But cheap labor is not the key. Keeping the number one post means offering high quality services, using available resources and streamlining its expenses . . .” [PH under pressure to keep top rank global call center, Emmie Abadilla, Manila Bulletin, 30th Mar 2014] “There are two main success drivers: the first is highly qualified management that pays fixed attention to boosting call center efficiency and streamlining expenses while also boosting income at the same time. That, coupled with next generation IT solutions, enhances performance by automating all major business processes . . . For one thing, call centers workers need better educational support to serve current accounts and accommodate future market needs . . . [E]mployees’ skill sets must be reinforced to avoid a ‘mismatch’ between the knowledge acquired from formal education and the requirements expected by the customers.”

“The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which administers export zones and regulates tax incentives granted to their locators, has opposed plans to overhaul the country’s fiscal incentives regime and its merger with the Board of Investments (BOI) stressing the current system is working well and changes at this time when the country is enjoying positive business sentiment globally could only drive investors away.” [PEZA opposes overhaul of fiscal incentives, merger with BOI, Bernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin, 30th Mar 2014]

“The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is urging Congress to pass first the Department of Finance’s (DOF) four priority measures meant to plug tax leaks before discussing any proposed bill that aims to restructure the current income tax regime.” [Plug tax leaks first before reducing income tax – BIR, Manila Bulletin, Chino Leyco, 30th Mar 2014] “BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said the Congress should pass the fiscal incentive rationalization bill, the tax incentive transparency act, the mining revenue sharing bill and the customs modernization bill.”

Shouldn’t we be constantly reminding ourselves where we want to be – or could we even agree where we want to be?

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